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VOP Action Alert: Racial Profiling Bill Needs Co-Sponsors

The General Assembly will open for the 2005 legislative session on January 12. Delegate Jeion Ward has pre-filed a bill to collect data on racial profiling in Virginia, and many VOP local groups have met with their delegates to ask them to support a bill to document patterns of racial profiling this year. Signing on as a co-sponsor to Del. Ward's racial profiling bill is a concrete way that all delegates can move this bill along in the upcoming session.
To: The Virginia Organizing Project E-mail Action Alert List 12-17-04

VOP Action Alert: Racial Profiling Bill Needs Co-Sponsors

December 17, 2004

ACTION NEEDED: Please contact your Virginia State Delegate to ask him or
her to sign on as a co-patron to legislation sponsored by Del. Jeion Ward
(D-92). The bill requires state and local law enforcement agencies to
collect data on all routine traffic stops. This data will be analyzed by an
independent public agency to assess and report on any patterns of racial
profiling by law enforcement in Virginia.

The General Assembly will open for the 2005 legislative session on January
12. Delegate Jeion Ward has pre-filed a bill to collect data on racial
profiling in Virginia, and many VOP local groups have met with their
delegates to ask them to support a bill to document patterns of racial
profiling this year. Signing on as a co-sponsor to Del. Ward's racial
profiling bill is a concrete way that all delegates can move this bill along
in the upcoming session.

If you don't know who your delegate is, go to: legis.state.va.us.

Click on: Who's My Legislator? and enter your address to get the name of
your state delegate (and state senator).

If you know your delegate's name, you can find his or her contact
information at:
dela.state.va.us/dela/MemBios.nsf/MWebsiteTL?OpenView


REMINDER: Thanks once again to all of you who have sent a donation to VOP
this fall. If you haven't made a donation to VOP yet, please do so if you
can. This link makes it easy:
www.virginia-organizing.org/donation.php.

VOP is moving full steam ahead on racial profiling and tax reform issues, as
well as planning for a statewide health care campaign. Your participation
in the action alert system and contributions to VOP fundraising efforts
helps make Virginia a more just, open and inclusive place to live. There's
lots of work to do in 2005, and we're glad to have you on the VOP action
alert network!

BACKGROUND:

This bill requires the Superintendent of State Police to require each local
and state police officer, during the course of their official duties, to
collect information pertaining to traffic stops, including the race,
ethnicity, color, age, and gender of the alleged traffic offender, and to
record the specific reason for the stop, whether the person was
interrogated, charged, or arrested, and whether a written citation or
warning was issued.

The bill also requires the development of a statewide database for
collecting, correlating, analyzing, interpreting, and reporting the data.
Police officers have been granted civil immunity for errors in data
collection, provided the absence of gross negligence or willful misconduct.

A Joint Subcommittee studying the status and needs of African American males
in Virginia identified bias in policing practices as a serious problem
affecting the African-American community. In Virginia, legislation has been
introduced in the past three General Assembly sessions to address the issue
but has not passed. This legislation would require data collection and
analysis on all traffic stops. Currently data is available only on tickets
issued and arrests.

Law-abiding citizens in many jurisdictions within Virginia occasionally or
repeatedly encounter law enforcement officials on routine traffic stops who
appear to have stopped them solely on the basis of race or some other
non-criminal personal characteristic. The state does not require collection
or analysis of data on the number of drivers who are stopped and let go
without a ticket.

Data collection on all traffic stops will discourage and prevent future
incidents of racial profiling as well as identify any apparent patterns of
racial profiling in various part of the state, thus allowing law enforcement
to take specific action to address the problem.

By reporting and analyzing information on each routine traffic stop, law
enforcement agencies will have adequate data to identify and take
appropriate action on isolated cases or possible ongoing patterns of racial
profiling by law enforcement officers in each jurisdiction.

For more information contact Brian Johns at 757-737-0937 or
bcjohns (at) virginia-organizing.org.
 
 


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